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Old 04-22-2014, 01:19 PM   #1
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Mold Smell in Classroom


My wife is a school teacher and her classroom is in a doublewide trailer turned into two classrooms. She smelled mold in one area of the room and reported it and when the custodian came out he said it was wet under the trailer but he didn't smell mold.
Is there an easy way to know if this is an unsafe environment or not?

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Old 04-22-2014, 01:23 PM   #2
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Mold Smell in Classroom


Thsoe trailers turned classrooms are NOTORIOUS for developing mold, usually above the ceiling tiles. My step mother just got her whole classroom of 4th graders relocated because they discovered it, and were told by the people who came in that it is pretty much inevitable because the schools never really maintain those "buildings."

(I know this doesn't help you / answer your question)

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Old 04-22-2014, 02:34 PM   #3
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Mold Smell in Classroom


First thing is to be sure of what you are smelling. We get a lot of calls for moldy smells only to find that the person hasn't emptied the trash for a week and they are smelling the remains of their lunch. Stagnant water underneath can be emitting it's own aromas without creating a mold situation. Below is a link to information that might be of interest.

How to control Mold Part 1
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Old 04-22-2014, 02:55 PM   #4
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First thing is to be sure of what you are smelling. We get a lot of calls for moldy smells only to find that the person hasn't emptied the trash for a week and they are smelling the remains of their lunch. Stagnant water underneath can be emitting it's own aromas without creating a mold situation. Below is a link to information that might be of interest.

How to control Mold Part 1
Thanks for that but I am looking for a way to know if there are mold spores in the air. Does anyone know of a way she can get the air tested. This is Not a DIY issue for me. I should have mentioned I loaned her my moisture hunter but this doesn't tell if there are mold spores in the air.
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Old 04-22-2014, 06:10 PM   #5
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Mold Smell in Classroom


Of course there are mold spores in the air. The last breath you took included more than a few. Is there a way to test for an over-abundance? Sure. An environmental testing company can sample the air. There are right and wrong ways to do it. I recommend a company that knows how to test for mold. A sample should be taken in the area where mold is suspected. Another where it is not and at least one outdoors as a reference. These should be pumped air samples, not plate samples.
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Old 04-22-2014, 07:42 PM   #6
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Mold Smell in Classroom


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My wife is a school teacher and her classroom is in a doublewide trailer turned into two classrooms. She smelled mold in one area of the room and reported it and when the custodian came out he said it was wet under the trailer but he didn't smell mold.
Is there an easy way to know if this is an unsafe environment or not?
If it is dry outside and wet underneath there is a leak. It could even be a sewer leak and the custodian didn't want to bother with it. Health issue, sure, without a doubt. I'm betting the county health department can get some answers unless the custodian and the health department head are relatives.
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Old 04-23-2014, 06:03 AM   #7
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Mold Smell in Classroom


+1

Some IAQ companies will allow you to grab an air sample dish and then turn it in for testing for cheaper.

I would think the School system would want to be proactive on this.
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Old 04-23-2014, 08:48 AM   #8
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Mold Smell in Classroom


From what our chief building official told us, those petri dishes you set out to collect samples yourself are worthless. Since mold is naturally present in the air, there is a chance you're going to just get a random particle land on it and grow, when you don't actually have a mold problem.

Unscrupulous mitigation companies love when you get a false positive and pay them come out to fix a problem that doesn't exist.

To answer the OPs question, if the school isn't on your side of needing testing done, I'm not sure there is much she can do on her own. We had a problem with that here in our municipal building, where many were complaining of illness type symptoms here at work, but not at home. Took like 2 years of convincing before the city finally had the duct work checked (no problems found).
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Old 04-23-2014, 01:38 PM   #9
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What type of soil is it sitting on ?

Some clay soils smell moldy (or even sewer like) when wet.
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Old 04-23-2014, 02:10 PM   #10
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What type of soil is it sitting on ?

Some clay soils smell moldy (or even sewer like) when wet.
blacktop/asphalt
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Old 04-23-2014, 03:07 PM   #11
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+1

Some IAQ companies will allow you to grab an air sample dish and then turn it in for testing for cheaper.

I would think the School system would want to be proactive on this.
Plate collectors (petri dishes) have their place, but trying to pin down a suspected problem is not a place for them. You want to use air sampling where you can actually take a spore count. If, for example an air sample returned a count of 230 in the toilet, 100 next to the teachers desk and 75 outside, then you know that there is something loading the air with spores in or near the toilet. Pumped samples pull air across a filter of a given size for a specific amount of time. By counting the spores on the filter, a calculation will then tell you how many mold spores there are in a cubic meter of air. A plate collector would tell you that viable mold spores landed on the plate and a good lab can even tell you what kind of mold colony they produced, but the information is of limited value in this case. There are, of course, other variables that play into this, such as the ventilation system, traffic into and out of the building, etc.

Last edited by Maintenance 6; 04-23-2014 at 03:12 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 04-23-2014, 03:15 PM   #12
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Mold Smell in Classroom


Stagnant water can grow lots of odorous things, even if it is not causing a mold problem inside the building. Algae and bacteria are prominant in stagnant water and are great at producing odors.
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Old 04-23-2014, 04:13 PM   #13
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I just had a thought. She could have a science project raising Salamanders if the weather warms some.
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Old 04-23-2014, 07:42 PM   #14
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Custodian came by today and took the skirt off the trailer in that area to try and dry it out. My wife looked under the trailer and couldn't see mold or mildew. She checked it with moisture meter and it read 4%.
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Old 04-25-2014, 09:45 AM   #15
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The problem with most of these trailers is that they were supposed to be temporary and many places are trying to make them permanent structures. They leak, have rodent issues, mold issues, etc. It's unfortunate she has to work in one of them.

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